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In Campaign and Company, Ivanka Trump Has a Central Role


It was a night to celebrate strong women. Amy Schumer was the host, Caitlyn Jenner was honored and the guests included Arianna Huffington, Madeleine Albright and the actress Reese Witherspoon.

They also included Ivanka Trump.

When the crowd at Glamour’s Women of the Year event on Nov. 9 sat down for dinner at the Rainbow Room, a person at Ms. Trump’s table asked the question that others were no doubt thinking: What would her father, who was being pilloried for remarks that struck many as misogynistic, make of her attending an event like this?

Ms. Trump quickly broke the strained silence by saying that she was her own person. Soon after, she and her friend Wendi Deng — Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife — left.

A spokesman for Ms. Trump said she went home not because she was uncomfortable, but because it was late and she had two small children. But it was an awkward collision of the two worlds she inhabits: One as a 30-something Manhattan socialite and role model to young professional women, the other as Donald J. Trump’s oldest daughter, biggest champion and perhaps most valuable asset.

A lot of women have come and gone over the course of Mr. Trump’s life. But through his two high-profile divorces, numerous public romances and three marriages, Ivanka Trump has remained a constant.

In interviews, the Trumps, their friends and people who have done business with them described Donald’s and Ivanka’s relationship as especially close, with Ms. Trump holding an exalted position in the family, in their company, and even in the campaign.

Among the Trump children, she is the acknowledged favorite: “Daddy’s little girl,” as her older brother Donald Jr. once described her. When Ms. Trump and her father are not together, she said, they speak as often as five times a day.

In the Trump family business, he has given her a level of authority none of his wives, or for that matter executives, have ever had. She handles some of the Trump Organization’s biggest deals, including its acquisition of the Doral Resort in Miami, and its agreement to convert the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., into a luxury hotel.

And with Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, the Slovenian former model, less than comfortable on stage, Ivanka Trump has served as a surrogate political spouse for a candidate who may need one more than anyone else in the race.

Cutting a starkly different image from Mr. Trump’s more combative and impulsive public supporters, like Chris Christie or Sarah Palin, not to mention the candidate himself, Ms. Trump, 34, radiates disciplined poise and practiced reserve. While her father uses Twitter as a grenade launcher, she treats her well-tended social media feeds, which are notably politics-free, as marketing tools for the Trump Organization and her own line of women’s clothing and accessories.

On March 15, with her father in the midst of a political clear-cutting through Florida while facing accusations of stirring up racially charged violence at his rallies, she posted a photograph on Instagram highlighting the @TrumpHotels creative team in Waikiki under a serene image of a woman relaxing in a sun-dappled pool.

It was a fitting image for a devoted daughter who exists as an almost surreally detached counterpoint to her father’s bellicosity, and yet may be his most important ally, particularly if he finds himself facing a Democratic opponent who aspires to be the first female president of the United States.

Ms. Trump tried to do damage control after her father seemed to have made reference to Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle. She was the unlikely star of a CNN town hall program last week with the Trump family, talking about how her father had encouraged and empowered her. And in a recent interview at Trump Tower, Ms. Trump attacked, however gently, her father’s critics.

“What bothers me is how rash people are to make claims as if they knew him and they knew his viewpoint on certain topics,” she said. “My father has an enormous heart and truly loves people — all people.”

Inside her father’s campaign, which has brazenly eschewed the advice of political experts, Ms. Trump is one of a few people who can, on occasion anyway, influence the candidate’s thinking. She failed to persuade Mr. Trump to apologize for accusing Mexico of sending its “rapists” over the border, according to a person close to Mr. Trump who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak for the campaign. But, this person said, she successfully convinced her father to maintain his qualified support for Planned Parenthood in the face of Republican criticism.

“I think her father really listens to her, and when I say listens to her I mean I think her father respects her a great deal, and not just because she’s his daughter,” said Carl Icahn, a longtime friend of the Trump family. “I don’t say that lightly. I have a lot of wealthy friends who have kids and a few of them stand out, but not that many.”


Born to Run an Empire

Ms. Trump is the second of three children from Mr. Trump’s marriage to Ivana, a former model from the former Czechoslovakia. She was 8 when she learned about her father’s affair with Marla Maples from the horde of photographers waiting for her outside the Chapin School on the Upper East Side. “Love on the Rocks,” read the front page of the New York Daily News in the first of many stories about their contentious split.

In the public imagination, Mr. Trump had become a symbol of greed and excess. To Ms. Trump, he remained a doting father. And unlike Donald Jr., who did not speak to their father for a year, Ms. Trump never blamed him for the divorce.

At Chapin, a close friend recalled, Ms. Trump would check in with him almost every day, calling him — collect — from a pay phone tucked away in a janitor’s closet. On weekends, he often brought her to visit his various construction sites, or whisked her and her friends off to Palm Beach with him on his jet to play golf and order room service at Mar-a-Lago.

After eighth grade, Ms. Trump’s parents sent her to boarding school at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut.

In college, she was featured prominently in the 2003 documentary “Born Rich,” as part of a cast of heirs and heiresses reflecting on their extreme privilege. Most of her co-stars spoke about the corrupting influence of wealth on their young lives. By contrast, Ms. Trump seemed to idealize her family, speaking about how proud she was of her parents and the Trump name, and showing off her childhood bedroom, with its sweeping view of Central Park.

“There was no hint of teenage rebellion on or off the screen,” recalled the film’s producer, Dirk Wittenborn. “She had a message to deliver and she delivered it.”

Ms. Trump sought a degree of independence, taking up modeling in part to have her own spending money. (“She’s got the best body,” Mr. Trump said of his daughter to Howard Stern in 2003. “She made a lot money as a model — a tremendous amount.”)

But she never strayed far from her father. After Ms. Trump’s sophomore year at Georgetown, she transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, majoring in real estate. She would soon go to work for the Trump Organization.

A childhood friend of Ms. Trump’s, Tamara Goldstein, remembers standing on the roof of Trump Tower with her in the summer of 2004, shortly after they had both graduated from college.

“How amazing is it that I have an opportunity to change the actual landscape of this skyline,” Ms. Goldstein recalled Ms. Trump saying.

Over the years, Ms. Trump began to assume more responsibility and autonomy within the family business.

“In the past, he’d have 10 deals going with lots of different lawyers and nondescript employees,” said Thomas Barrack, a real estate investor who sold the Plaza Hotel to Mr. Trump in 1988 and has remained close to the family since. “But nobody really had the authority to do anything. That all changed with Ivanka.”

Her father still has the final say over what to buy and how much to pay for it, but Ms. Trump now personally negotiates almost all of the company’s major deals.

“She is very, very trusted by me,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “She has great real-estate instincts and great political instincts.”

Those who have sat across the table from her describe her as atypically calm and even-tempered in an industry often characterized by threats and bluster.

“She’s been thrust into this environment of high-testosterone real-estate males, and she never loses her cool,” said Michael Ashner, the chief executive of Winthrop Realty Trust, which sold the Doral to the Trump Organization in 2011 for $150 million.

In CNN’s Trump family interview last week, Ms. Trump cited her power within the family business to defend his attitude toward women. “So for me, his actions speak louder than the words of many politicians who talk about gender equality but it’s not evidenced in their daily employment practices,” she said.

Her style may be more low-key than her father’s, but like him, Ms. Trump has also been accused of engaging in hyperbole. A 2010 lawsuit claimed that she, as well as her father and older brother, had in public statements drastically overstated the number of units that had been sold in Trump SoHo to make the luxury condominium project appear financially healthier than it really was.

Mr. Trump and his co-defendants settled the case, agreeing to refund 90 percent of the plaintiffs’ deposits, while admitting no wrongdoing.

And Ms. Trump ran into some trouble with her own business recently, when 20,000 of her Ivanka Trump-brand scarves were recalled for violating the United States’ flammability standards. They, like some of her father’s own clothing products, were manufactured in China, the kind of outsourcing Mr. Trump is fond of criticizing on the stump.


From Park Avenue to Politics

Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were married in 2009 at the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey. To marry Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump had converted to Judaism under an Orthodox rabbi, and she recalled her father wearing a skullcap beneath a huppah erected on the 18th green. Guests were given white flip-flops with the words “Jared” and “Ivanka” engraved on the insoles.

Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, had also made a fortune in real estate and was a Democratic power broker in New Jersey. But he was perhaps better known for his fall than his rise. Not long before Jared Kushner and Ms. Trump met, Charles Kushner went to prison for tax fraud, election law violations and witness tampering. Among other things, he had hired a prostitute with a hidden camera to entrap his brother-in-law.

Ms. Trump and her husband now live in a penthouse on Park Avenue with their three young children. Jared Kushner is also doing his part to help sand his father-in-law’s rough edges. He has made phone calls on Mr. Trump’s behalf to influential Republicans, while the newspaper Mr. Kushner owns, The New York Observer, has been championing his candidacy.

Trump outsourcing includes home goods, daughter’s clothing line

It isn’t just the ties.

Donald Trump has taken some grief for the fact that his signature neckties are made in China. But the scope of Trump-branded products made outside America is larger than has previously been reported — especially when that includes the clothing line named after Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, which is listed on the Trump Organization website as part of the Trump empire.

Thousands of items with the Trump name on them — furniture, shirts, shoes, salad bowls, even “Trump body soap,” and much of Ivanka’s growing jewelry and clothing line — have been made by companies, often paying Trump simply for the use of his name on their goods, that employ foreign workers.

Clothing and home goods are a small part of Trump’s fortune. His total income from licensed home goods was between $2.5 million and $13.1 million, according to his personal financial disclosure.


These Trump company business decisions are directly at odds with the central message of his presidential campaign: a promise to bring back jobs that have been sent abroad.

“I am going to bring jobs back to the United States like nobody else can,” Trump said in his closing statement at last week’s debate in Detroit, ahead of the Republican primary in Michigan on Tuesday.

“I’m going to bring jobs back from China. I’m going to bring jobs back from Mexico and from Japan,” Trump said during the Feb. 13 GOP debate in South Carolina.

In Detroit, Trump admitted he had his clothing line manufactured in China and Mexico. But he claimed that it is “impossible for clothing makers in this country to do clothing in this country.” Trump blamed the Chinese government’s devaluation of the yuan, which helps to make Chinese-made goods cheaper for American consumers than those made in the U.S.

Though many clothing, footwear and home goods companies make their goods in the United States — and there’s even been a small upsurge in higher-priced specialty brands locating manufacturing in Los Angeles, the current center of American garment manufacturing — the U.S. textile and apparel industry has been decimated since the 1990s, thanks to a combination of global trade deals and the North American Free Trade Agreement. The industry lost more than 900,000 jobs between 1994 and 2005, and even when companies do want to locate textile industry jobs in America, it can be hard to find skilled garment workers.


Manufacturing outside the U.S. may be good business for a billionaire like Trump. But in the political arena — where campaigns go to absurd lengths to secure and sell only made-in-America goods and drive only made-in-America cars — Trump’s business deals stand out for being as impolitic as his speech.

It turns out that a huge array of Trump brand products are made in Asia or South America, countries where — as he told CNN this past summer — “the laborers are paid a lot less, and the standards are worse when it comes to the environment and health care and worker safety.”

Trump, like most celebrities who monetize their fame, does not always manage the day-to-day operations of the companies that make goods with his name on them, instead making licensing deals and receiving payments simply for the use of his name as a brand. It’s the same approach he has taken to real estate: There are 17 properties in Manhattan with the Trump name on them, but Trump owns only five of the buildings.

Nonetheless, public data collected by a private company, ImportGenius, which gathers export and import information, shows Trump products outsourcing jobs back to 2006. And the trend has intensified over the past few years. Since 2011, around 1,200 shipments of goods with the Trump name on them have come to the U.S. from other countries. Our Principles PAC, a super-PAC opposing Trump, compiled the data from ImportGenius into an Excel spreadsheet (viewable here) with 1,356 shipments going back to 2006.

And this is a conservative estimate, since the ImportGenius data compiled by Our Principles only listed items that included Trump’s name on the “bill of lading,” a certificate issued by carriers to ensure that exporters receive payment and importers get the goods they’ve paid for. Sometimes, product marks or labels are not included in shipping records.


A large portion of the increase in outsourcing has come from the Ivanka Trump clothing line. The Trump outsourcing data includes shipments received as recently as last month. In fact, there were 50 shipments in February, almost all of them of women’s clothes and shoes for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.

Trump is seeking to win the White House by appealing to resentment among working class voters in parts of the country that have been hurt by outsourcing. But he has not always been a critic of the practice.

“We hear terrible things about outsourcing jobs — how sending work outside of our companies is contributing to the demise of American businesses. But in this instance I have to take the unpopular stance that it is not always a terrible thing,” Trump wrote in a Trump University blog item in 2005.

The Economic Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank affiliated with organized labor, estimated in 2014 that since 2001 Chinese workers had taken more than 3 million jobs from Americans. Those in favor of free trade argue that commerce between countries ultimately increases economic growth and helps lift the country as a whole, but few dispute that free trade has also negatively impacted parts of the country that relied heavily on manufacturing jobs.

And while Trump has also railed against immigrants taking jobs in the U.S. from American workers, there are some inconsistencies in his own record on that count as well. His Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, hired only 17 American workers out of 300 who applied, and instead employed hundreds of foreign-born workers for seasonal jobs.

Ivanka Trump: The ‘Anti-Donald’ works to protect the billion-dollar brand

While her 69-year-old father bashes Chinese leaders for “ripping us off” and “sucking us dry,” Ivanka Trump shares a video on Instagram of her 4-year-old daughter singing a Chinese New Year song in Mandarin.

With the elder Trump off running an increasingly polarizing campaign for president, Ivanka Trump has been stepping up her profile in the family’s real estate empire, where she is seen as the “anti-Donald” protecting the family’s billion-dollar brand.

Last week, while Donald Trump was retweeting an unflattering picture of the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz, escalating their feud in the Republican presidential race, Ivanka was tweeting tasty recipes — spiced cauliflower and stuffed artichokes with peas and dill.

And Sunday evening Ivanka Trump, 34, brought her family more feel-good headlines and social media buzz when she gave birth to her third child, a son named Theodore James Kushner.

Just as consistently as her father spews inflammatory statements – “torture works” and “Islam hates us” — Ivanka offers her 1.8 million Twitter followers tips on such noncontroversial topics as sleeping better and dressing “chic” for #WomenWhoWork.

It’s not, however, easy to keep politics separate from business. This month, Ivanka Trump’s own line of shoes, clothes and accessories was removed from the Trump Organization’s main site as critics pointed out that much of her merchandise is made in China or other foreign countries even as her father bashes U.S. companies for moving work overseas.

Usually, though, it’s Ivanka Trump’s burden — as executive vice president of development and acquisitions — to deal with trouble her father stirred up. She lost two acclaimed chefs at the family’s $200 million Washington hotel project after Donald Trump described some Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said he would no longer do business with the Trump company. Elected officials in Vancouver and Toronto asked the owners of the family’s buildings there to strip the Trump name from them.

Carefully scripted, Ivanka shies from the TV news shows her father thrives on, but she is increasingly appearing in Vogue, Elle Decor and other glossy magazines primarily aimed at women. She talks about balancing parenting and work and wears designer outfits and looks picture-perfect. No floppy suits, no flyaway hair. And never an off-the-cuff, outrageous statement.

This year, she has also crisscrossed the country, standing beside her father “playing a valuable role in softening his image,” as former Trump adviser Roger Stone said.

At Mary Ann’s Diner in Derry, N.H., she greeted diners and posed with waitresses, urging them to vote for her father but ducking questions from reporters, saying, “I am just a daughter supporting her father.”

Her approach — being the balm to her father’s sharp stings — appears to have paid some dividends. Although Macy’s dropped her father’s lines of ties and suits after his remarks about Mexicans, the retailer continues to sell Ivanka’s products. She found a new restaurant for the D.C. hotel project, construction has continued on pace and owners of the Canadian projects ultimately stuck with the Trump name.

Ivanka Trump declined to be interviewed for this article, and she has hired public-relations experts to field her calls and try to spread the word that she is focused on her family and business — not politics. Many see her unerring focus on agreeable subjects like food and parenting as a calculated move to protect the business.

When asked why Ivanka avoids political comment, a person who works for her said, “Both Republicans and Democrats buy Ivanka Trump.”

While her father is being pilloried throughout Latin America, Ivanka Trump was just given the celebrity treatment on the cover of the Spanish-language Jetset magazine in Colombia. The article called her father “the outrageous candidate” but described Ivanka as “glamorous” and the “power” behind the business.

Still, one branding expert believes that the businesses remain vulnerable — particularly in countries where her products are popular yet where his comments have caused outrage.

“That’s where I think the campaign could really hurt her,” said Carol Spieckerman, a branding and retail consultant. “So I think she has to be even more careful and more deliberative in managing her image and brand abroad.”

Rob Frankel, a national brand specialist, said it takes a lot to commit brand suicide: “Remember: Martha Stewart was thrown in jail, and that was not the end of Martha Stewart. She established a healthy brand.”

But it is a smart move to add in the safer “Ivanka elements” — a millennial and working mom not engaging in divisive politics — to the “master Trump brand,” Frankel said.

“She carefully considers her words when she speaks; she’s measured and thoughtful,” said Suzanne Hill, an environmental planner who has been in meetings with Ivanka as she has taken the lead on the Trump hotel project a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. “She is very different from her father.”

One of the few times she comes close to making a partisan statement is when she repeats her father’s signature slogan — “Make America Great Again!” — in videos, like the ones widely shared in Iowa last month and Utah this month where she urges people to vote for her father. More typically, she tells voters in YouTube videos, digital ads and appearances that her father is a great dad who told her “I could do anything I set my mind to.”

A former model who has appeared as a judge on the “Apprentice” reality TV show hosted by her father, Ivanka has shown a Trumpian knack for attracting media attention.

Last month, she was on the cover of Town & Country magazine and used the feature to responded to claims that her father has made sexist remarks. “He 100 percent believes in equality of gender,” she said.

This month, Ivanka is in Cosmopolitan magazine, saying she is “wholly focused on the growth of my own company — my lifestyle brand and, a digital destination for women who work.” She said she is working with her brothers “to expand the global footprint of the Trump Organization.”

Ivanka’s lifestyle is also distinct from her father’s. She is married to Jared Kushner, a real-estate mogul and publisher of the weekly New York Observer, who comes from a well-known Democratic family. She is friendly with Chelsea Clinton, who is also expecting a baby and campaigning for her mother. The two daughters have not been seen together recently, since their parents have begun to publicly shred each other.

Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism before she married into Kushner’s Orthodox Jewish family in 2009. She has spoken about how she, her husband and two children observe the Jewish sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday — keeping away from phones for 25 hours and using it as a time to concentrate on family.

Donald Trump has told Jewish groups that he can’t call his daughter during that time. And, last week, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C., Trump make a point of saying that any day now “my daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.”

“Priorities are more important — you can’t plan to balance,” Ivanka Trump said in a Washington Post interview in 2013. “Something comes up … either a deal or … an emergency at home. … So anyone tries to strive for balance normally winds up at a loss. … I try and ask myself the question at the end of every day, ‘Were my priorities in order?’ ”

Until the last days of her pregnancy, Ivanka had been more visible on this campaign trail than her stepmother, Melania Knauss, Trump’s third wife, who was born in Slovenia. In fact, it was Ivanka who went to the microphone in the Trump Tower in Manhattan to introduce her father when he announced his candidacy last year.

Ivanka’s mother is Ivana Trump, the athlete and fashion model from the former Czechoslovakia and Donald Trump’s first wife. Famously, Ivana advised women who were divorcing: “Don’t get mad. Get everything!”

Ivana and Donald Trump also have two sons who work in the family business and have hit the campaign trail. Trump has another daughter with his second wife, Marla Maples, and a young son with Knauss. But it is Ivanka who is best known of the next generation of Trumps and who is developing a growing following of her own.

Lately, she has been spending a lot of time designing and building the luxury hotel in Washington, scheduled to open in September a few blocks from the White House.

Thomas Luebke, secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, was one of those who met regularly for months with Ivanka and her team to hammer out the reuse of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion, often in a cramped

government office room. “She’s young, so some of this stuff would be new. You could see her trying to figure it out — the wheels turning for her.” He said that Ivanka was always “very well prepared and very professional.”

She didn’t get everything she wanted and showed a willing to compromise, others said. The Trumps would have preferred to own the building, not lease it for 60 years, as they agreed to. The D.C. Preservation League raised a number of concerns about how the former post office would be redeveloped, such as when Ivanka proposed “something a little glam, a little baroque” for the interior courtyard, according to the group’s executive director, Rebecca Miller. She said that Ivanka listened and that the glitz was scaled back.

“She was very knowledgeable about the process, obviously very involved, not just a face piece,” Miller said.

Ivanka, after studying two years at Georgetown University, transferred to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, her father’s alma mater. And, like her father, she appeared on “The Apprentice,” wrote a best-selling book (“The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life”) and has offered tips on the art of negotiation.

Now many wonder if she will one day follow her father’s footsteps in politics.

“I just don’t know if she has any interest in it,” said Stone, the former Trump adviser, adding that she is now focused on raising her children and running her business.

Then again, he added: “There was also a time when that was true for Donald Trump.”

Ivanka Trump’s Scarves from Her Brand Are #FeelingTheBurn (Risk)

While her father has his hands full attempting to “Make America Great Again,” Ivanka Trump is busy putting out (potential) fires. The new mother and fashion designer is facing a major product recall after her brand sold thousands of scarves that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are calling a “burn risk.”

Roughly 20,000 scarves were recalled by the CPSC for violating the Federal Flammability Standard, which in layman’s terms means they have an above-average likelihood of catching on fire. Two scarf styles are at the center of this safety hazard, “Beach Wave,” a blue, coral and yellow print and “Brushstroke Oblong,” which features abstracts swipes of blue, red, neutral and green. Though no incidents have been reported thus far, in a notice to the public the organization advises that, “Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled scarves and return them to the place where purchased for a full refund. Consumers who purchased the scarves online will be contacted directly by online retailers with return instructions.”

While these neck accessories may have the name of a member of the Trump family stitched into their label, it’s safe to say that these particular pieces of apparel are #FeelingTheBurn. Let’s just hope The Donald doesn’t catch wind of the fact that his daughter’s scarves are Bernie Sanders supporters or he’ll be left with no choice but to build a giant wall around the factory that made them. (Let’s also hope it’s not the same one that makes his campaign hats!)

Will you be buying anything from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line?